Author

Douglas Kronaizl

Douglas Kronaizl is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at douglas.kronaizl@ballotpedia.org@ballotpedia.org.

Fagan wins Democratic nomination for Oregon Secretary of State

Shemia Fagan became the presumptive Democratic nominee for Oregon Secretary of State on May 22 after her opponent Mark Hass conceded. As of May 25, Fagan received 36.2% of the votes to Hass’s 35.6%, a margin of 3,343 votes. Jamie McLeod-Skinner, received 27.5% of the vote.

Fagan will face state Sen. Kim Thatcher (R) in the general election.

Oregon elections are conducted entirely by mail. Preliminary results released on May 19 showed Hass with a lead over Fagan. By late Wednesday, Fagan had taken the lead as additional mail-in ballots were counted.

Fagan, a state senator, said she “spent her career fighting for working Oregonians, holding big corporations accountable, and speaking truth to power.” She received endorsements from the Oregon AFL-CIO and Planned Parenthood PAC.

Hass, also a state senator, said he had “experience in getting big things passed into law” and had “specialized in the very things required of the Secretary of State.” He was endorsed by former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) and The Oregonian.

McLeod-Skinner, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District, said she was “the only candidate who has developed and implemented policy systems for land, water, and natural resource management.” She received endorsements from the Sierra Club of Oregon and Our Revolution Portland.

Unlike many states, Oregon’s secretary of state is first in the line of succession to the governorship. There is no lieutenant governor in Oregon. Four governors, including incumbent Kate Brown (D), were originally secretaries of state who succeeded to the office following a vacancy in the governorship.

Oregon is one of 14 states with divided triplex control, with a Democratic governor, a Democratic attorney general, and a Republican secretary of state. Incumbent Secretary of State Bev Clarno (R) was appointed to the office following the death of Dennis Richardson (R) in February 2019. Clarno did not seek a full term in 2020.


Perkins wins Oregon’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate

Jo Rae Perkins won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Oregon on May 19, defeating three other candidates. With an estimated 69% of ballots tallied, Perkins received 49% of the vote, followed by Paul Romero with 30.7%, Robert Schwartz with 11.5%, and John Verbeek with 8.3%. Perkins will run in the general election on Nov. 3, 2020 against incumbent Jeff Merkley (D). Merkley ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Perkins submitted a Candidate Connection survey. In her biography, she described herself as “a Main Street American who believes the US Constitution strongly and clearly spells out the role of the US Senate and the federal government.”

Both of Oregon’s U.S. Senate seats have been held by Democrats since Merkley defeated incumbent Gordon Smith (R) 49% to 45% in 2008. Major race rating outlets view the general U.S. Senate election in Oregon as Solid or Safe Democratic. Heading into the general election, Republicans hold 53 U.S. Senate seats to Democrats’ 45.


Balmer wins re-election to the Oregon Supreme Court

Thomas Balmer won re-election to the Oregon Supreme Court, Position 1, on May 19. He defeated challenger Van Pounds. According to unofficial results, Balmer received 71.5% of the vote to Pounds’ 28.1%. In Oregon, candidates in nonpartisan primaries can win an election outright if they receive over 50% of the vote in the primary.

Balmer, the court’s most senior member, was appointed in 2001 by Gov. John Kitzhaber (D). He was re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014, running unopposed in each race. Balmer served as chief justice from 2012 to 2018. He was endorsed by The Oregonian, the Bend Bulletin, and the Eugene Weekly editorial boards in the primary.

Pounds worked as a policy analyst and chief of enforcement and securities at the Oregon Department of Business and Consumer Services. He previously worked as an attorney with the Missouri Department of Revenue. Pounds was recommended by the Oregon Right to Life PAC and endorsed by the Taxpayer Association of Oregon in the primary.

Two other incumbents justices, Chris Garrett and Martha Walters, were also up for re-election. Both ran unopposed in their primaries.

The Oregon Constitution establishes nonpartisan elections as the mode of selection for state court justices. In the event of a vacancy, justices are appointed by the governor. All seven justices currently serving on the Oregon Supreme Court were appointed by Democratic governors.

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7,686 major party candidates filed for 2020 state legislative elections

Every week, we compile the latest numbers on state legislative candidates across the country. As of May 19, 2020, we’ve collected post-filing deadline data in 29 states. In 2020, 3,574 state legislative seats are up for regular election in those states, compared to 3,547 in 2018.

7,686 major party candidates—3,686 Democrats and 4,000 Republicans—have filed to run for state legislature in these states, compared to 8,248—4,153 Democrats and 4,095 Republicans—in 2018.

Elections in open seats tend to be more competitive than those where an incumbent is seeking re-election. So far, there are fewer open seats in 2020 than in 2018. In 2020, 543 major party incumbents (15% of seats up for election) are not running for re-election, compared to 730 major party incumbents (21%) in 2018.

More incumbents face primary challenges in 2020 than in 2018. So far in 2020, 622 primaries feature an incumbent. Additionally, one independent incumbent faced a top-two primary in California. In 2018, there were 611 such primaries in addition to a Libertarian incumbent facing a nonpartisan primary in Nebraska. In 2018, 87% of incumbents in these states won their primaries.

Overall, there are fewer contested state legislative primaries in 2020 than in 2018, with 1,257 and 1,454, respectively. These totals include all competitive top-two and nonpartisan primaries.

On November 3, 2020, 1,164 state senate seats and 4,711 state house seats are up for regular election for a total of 5,875 seats across 86 chambers in 44 states. There is a Republican majority in 52 chambers, a Democratic majority in 33, and a power sharing agreement in the Alaska House.

See the tables below for more information:

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No incumbents defeated in Nebraska’s state legislative primaries

On May 12, 2020, Nebraska voters cast their ballots in the state’s legislative primaries. Nebraska is the only state with a unicameral legislature, meaning it only has a state Senate. It is also the only state with a nonpartisan legislature. All candidates for a seat—Democrats, Republicans, and others—compete in a single primary. The top two candidates in the primary proceed to the general election.

While candidates are listed as officially nonpartisan, Ballotpedia has collected information from numerous sources to determine their political affiliations.

Twenty-five seats are up for election in 2020. There were six primaries, the lowest number in over two decades. Two incumbents faced contested primaries, Julie Slama (R) and Mike Hilgers (R), and both advanced to the general election.

Six seats (24%) were open, meaning the incumbent did not seek re-election. This is slightly lower than the eight open seats in 2018 (33%) and higher than the decade-low three open seats in 2010 (13%). All six open seats are held by term-limited senators who were ineligible to run for re-election this year.

Republicans are the only candidates in six general election races. All six seats are currently held by Republicans. Democrats are the only candidates in three races. One of those seats—District 11—is currently held by Ernie Chambers, a term-limited independent, and will flip to Democratic control after the general election.

Heading into the general election, Republicans hold a 30-18-1 supermajority in the state senate. Gov. Pete Ricketts is a Republican, making the state one of 21 Republican trifectas.

General election winners will be responsible for redrawing the state’s congressional and state legislative district lines after the 2020 census. In Nebraska, a simple majority is required to approve a redistricting plan, which is subject to veto by the governor. A veto can be overridden with a 3/5 vote equal to 30 senators.


7,507 major party candidates filed for 2020 state legislative elections

Every week, we compile the latest numbers on state legislative candidates across the country. As of May 12, 2020, we’ve collected post-filing deadline data in 28 states. In 2020, 3,491 state legislative seats are up for regular election in those states, compared to 3,465 in 2018.

7,507 major party candidates—3,594 Democrats and 3,913 Republicans—have filed to run for state legislature in these states, compared to 8,068—4,055 Democrats and 4,013 Republicans—in 2018.

Elections in open seats tend to be more competitive than those where an incumbent is seeking re-election. So far, there are fewer open seats in 2020 than in 2018. In 2020, 525 major party incumbents (15% of seats up for election) are not running for re-election, compared to 706 major party incumbents (20%) in 2018.

More incumbents face primary challenges in 2020 than in 2018. So far in 2020, 618 primaries feature an incumbent. Additionally, one independent incumbent faced a top-two primary in California. In 2018, there were 607 such primaries in addition to a Libertarian incumbent facing a nonpartisan primary in Nebraska. In 2018, 87% of incumbents in these states won their primaries.

Overall, there are fewer contested state legislative primaries in 2020 than in 2018, with 1,240 and 1,434, respectively. These totals include all competitive top-two and nonpartisan primaries.

On November 3, 2020, 1,164 state senate seats and 4,711 state house seats are up for regular election for a total of 5,875 seats across 86 chambers in 44 states. There is a Republican majority in 52 chambers, a Democratic majority in 33, and a power sharing agreement in the Alaska House.

See the tables below for more information:



Three of nine candidates in crowded Republican primary for Georgia’s 9th District seat have completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Earlier this week, Ethan Underwood, a candidate running in the Republican primary for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District, completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. He joins Michael Boggus and Maria Strickland, both of whom previously completed surveys.

Ballotpedia asks all federal, state, and local candidates to complete a survey so voters can discover what motivates them on political and personal levels.

One question asks candidates to list three key messages of their campaigns. Here is one response from each candidate.

Underwood: “I understand the law, knows [sic] how to navigate the political process, and will not back down until we create solutions.” Read Underwood’s full survey responses here.

Boggus: “Stopping government overreach and spending.” Read Boggus’ full survey responses here.

Strickland: “Stop sending career politicians to Washington and expecting a different outcome.” Read Strickland’s full survey responses here.

In 2018, 1,957 candidates completed a Candidate Connection survey. This numbers represents 6.9% of all 28,315 candidates Ballotpedia covered during that cycle. Out of the 1,957 respondents, 477 (24.4%) won their elections.

Underwood, Boggus, and Strickland join six other candidates—Paul Broun, Andrew Clyde, Matt Gurtler, Kevin Tanner, Kellie Weeks, and John Wilkinson—in seeking the Republican nomination to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R) in the 9th District.


Montana voters receive primary ballots by mail on May 8

Ballots for Montana’s June 2 statewide primary elections will be mailed to voters beginning on May 8.

On March 25, Governor Steve Bullock (D) issued a directive authorizing, but not requiring, counties to conduct the upcoming primary elections entirely by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic. On April 6, KTVH reported that all of Montana’s 56 counties opted to conduct their primary elections entirely by mail with ballots being sent out on May 8.

Voters can return completed ballots in the mail or in-person at their respective county election offices. All ballots must be received by election officials before 8:00 pm on June 2.

Primary elections in Montana are expected to be competitive this year with open races for U.S. House, attorney general, secretary of state, and governor. In 2016, President Donald Trump (R) defeated Hillary Clinton (D) in Montana 56.5-35.9%.

Montana has had a Democratic governor since 2005 and is one of 14 states with a divided government. Democrats hold the governorship and Republicans control both the state House of Representatives and state Senate. Montana is also one of 14 states with divided triplex control, with a Democratic governor, a Republican attorney general, and a Republican secretary of state.

In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Mike Cooney, the current lieutenant governor, is facing businesswoman Whitney Williams. On the Republican side, Attorney General Tim Fox, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, and State Sen. Al Olszewski are vying for the nomination. Gianforte was the 2016 Republican gubernatorial candidate. Incumbent Gov. Bullock defeated Gianforte 50.2-46.4% in that election.

There is a 150% increase in the number of state legislative incumbents facing primary challenges this year. In 2018, 10 incumbent legislators faced contested primaries. In 2020, 25 incumbents are facing primaries. In total, there will be 55 state legislative primaries this year. Republicans currently control both the House (57-42) and Senate (30-20).

Montana’s state legislative lines will be redrawn following the 2020 Census. Montana is one of six states where state legislative redistricting is handled by an independent commission rather than the legislature. The majority and minority leaders of both chambers select one member each. Those four members then agree upon a fifth member to serve as the chair. No public officials may serve on the commission.

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7,341 major party candidates filed for 2020 state legislative elections

Every week, we compile the latest numbers on state legislative candidates across the country. As of May 5, 2020, we’ve collected post-filing deadline data in 27 states. In 2020, 3,401 state legislative seats are up for regular election in those states, compared to 3,375 in 2018.

7,341 major party candidates—3,533 Democrats and 3,808 Republicans—have filed to run for state legislature in these states, compared to 7,884—3,977 Democrats and 3,907 Republicans—in 2018.

Elections in open seats tend to be more competitive than those where an incumbent is seeking re-election. So far, there are fewer open seats in 2020 than in 2018. In 2020, 509 major party incumbents (15% of seats up for election) are not running for re-election, compared to 674 major party incumbents (20%) in 2018.

More incumbents face primary challenges in 2020 than in 2018. So far in 2020, 605 primaries feature an incumbent. Additionally, one independent incumbent faced a top-two primary in California. In 2018, there were 600 such primaries in addition to a Libertarian incumbent facing a nonpartisan primary in Nebraska. In 2018, 87% of incumbents in these states won their primaries.

Overall, there are fewer contested state legislative primaries in 2020 than in 2018, with 1,220 and 1,416, respectively. These totals include all competitive top-two and nonpartisan primaries.

On November 3, 2020, 1,164 state senate seats and 4,711 state house seats are up for regular election for a total of 5,875 seats across 86 chambers in 44 states. There is a Republican majority in 52 chambers, a Democratic majority in 33, and a power sharing agreement in the Alaska House.

See the tables below for more information:

Additional reading:


One incumbent defeated in Ohio’s 2020 state legislative primaries

Forty contested primaries took place for the Ohio state legislature on April 28, 2020. There were nine primaries in the state Senate and 31 primaries in the state House. By partisan affiliation, 17 were Democratic primaries and 23 were Republican primaries.

This was a 35.5 percent decrease in the number of primaries from 2018 (62) and the fewest contested primaries in the state since 2012 (35).

Rep. Jeffrey Todd Smith (R), House District 43, was the only incumbent defeated in a primary in Ohio this year. He filed to run for re-election in December 2019, but announced in January 2020 that he would withdraw from the race, though his name remained on the primary ballot. One incumbent lost in a primary election in both the 2018 and 2016 elections.

There was a 22 percent drop in the number of major party candidates from 2018, one of the largest decreases in states whose filing deadlines have passed. In total, 265 candidates—123 Democrats and 142 Republicans—ran this year compared to 341 in 2018. Only Tennessee (-25%) and Oklahoma (-42%) have seen larger percentage decreases in major party candidates.

The number of races without incumbents in each chamber was about average compared to the past decade—five Senate races (31%) and 19 House races (19%) did not feature an incumbent, meaning the races were for open seats. These numbers are down from the decade-high numbers in 2018 when 10 Senate seats (59%) and 32 House seats (32%) were open.

Of the 16 seats up in the Senate, 11 will have an incumbent running in the general election. In the House, of the 99 seats up for election, 78 are set to feature an incumbent.

Heading into the general election, Republicans hold a 24-9 supermajority in the Senate and a 60-38 supermajority in the House. In 2018, Mike DeWine (R) was elected governor, making Ohio one of 21 Republican state government trifectas. General election winners will be responsible for redrawing district lines after the 2020 decennial census. In Ohio, the General Assembly is responsible for redistricting congressional district lines. State legislative district lines will be set by a bipartisan, seven-member state legislative redistricting commission after voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2015, 71-29%.

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